Learning and Remembering Gaelic Stories: Brian Stewart

Carol Zall (Author)


Questions about how Gaelic storytellers have learned, remembered and performed their tales are key to understanding the Gaelic narrative tradition. This article examines the experience of Brian Stewart, a Scottish Gaelic storyteller, and the techniques he reported using for learning, remembering and telling traditional Gaelic stories. Mr Stewart learned his stories – native heroic or international wonder tales – from his grandmother Susie Stewart and his uncle Alasdair Stewart (also known as ‘Alilidh Dall’). Strategies considered include taking an interest in stories; repeatedly listening to tales being told by a more experienced tradition bearer; practicing in front of, and being corrected by, another storyteller; consciously reviewing and rehearsing tales; visualizing stories; and retaining a faithful memory of formulaic language or runs. The difference between learning a story and learning a song is also discussed. It is suggested that studying these strategies can contribute to a better understanding of the Stewarts’ storytelling ethos.
How to Cite
Zall, C. (2013) “Learning and Remembering Gaelic Stories: Brian Stewart”, Scottish Studies, 36, p. 125. doi: 10.2218/ss.v36.2708.